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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SL Airport Expo Blog Spotlight: Rael Ellisson

We have another round of blog spotlights of SL Airport owners! Today's spotlights start with Rael Ellisson owner of Sparrow Field:


1.  What inspired you to create your airport in Second Life?
I was inspired to create Sparrow Field after seeing the incredible builds at places like Aeronautica or Yamato of Japan, and the airplanes made by Karl Reisman or Darsh Lucero. These builds really opened my eyes about what can be done in Second Life.  In real life, since childhood I have built plastic models, especially aircraft, and when I was young, my father and I built a large highly detailed HO model railroad.  For me, building Sparrow Field is an extension of these RL hobbies.  Second life is more space efficient then real life models!  I come to SL aviation more as a model maker then a video gamer.

2.  Tell us about your airport, what were your aims and goals in Second Life, when you created it?   
Sparrow Field is located in the Dogoog region on the Nautilus mainland continent.  My goal was to spend a lot of real life money on virtual real estate at the expense of my childrens' college savings. Joking!  From the start I was a "grid flyer", and have been committed to the mainland.  I  got my start in Second Life aviation when I was one of the first hanger renters at Hollywood Airport when the Blake Sea was first created, and from that, I learned to appreciate the value of lots of open water sims, so personally, I was never drawn to rent in or own a private estate.   By the time I felt ready to buy some SL real estate for an airport, I had also come to appreciate the freedom and diversity of the builds on the mainland, so I decided to build my airport on the largest collection of open water sims in Second Life.  From Sparrow, you can access hundreds of linden ocean regions that surround Nautilus City as well as the "Big Fish" or "North Sea" Ocean, and of course the Blake Sea.   There are many airports to fly to.  Initially, outside of the Blake Sea, there was only Zee West and the old airport at Strugatsky, but soon came Sparrow, New Horizons, Kinrara, Acknefar, Baitousan, and many other independent airports.   I certainly appreciate the thematic unity that can be achieved in a private estate, especially when it is done with imagination, vision, and originality such as by the Flying Tigers, at Olds Airforce Base, or the old Aeronautica estate, but my personal preference is for the chaos, unpredictablility, freedom, and open space that is the mainland.  To me, this is more like real life, where you never know what you are going to encounter.  In Nautilus, there are hundreds of sims to fly, and one day you can find an airport you have never seen before, and the next day, in another spot, you might get attacked by dragons!  

3.  Is your airport modeled or inspired after a real life airport?    If so which one?
Sparrow Field is not inspired after any one airport.  I have always liked art deco architecture, so I wanted to design some original hangers, terminals, and other buildings in that style.  I also wanted to experiment with scale, which people have a difficult time with in Second Life.  Of course, the real cause of this is the high cost of tier, so space is expensive, but it then becomes a design challenge.    In the best constructed private estates, the airports are properly scaled and frequently span over several sims for a single airfield, but the mainland rarely affords (literally) this opportunity.    Here, privately owned airports are often small parcels that end up being very crowded and unrealistic, or else, even when an entire sim is used as an airport, the style of the airpot is 'scaled up' such that a very large airport with passenger jet terminals etc. is jammed into the one region.   It takes a very creative person to make these mainland space constraints work well.   Zee West, East River, and the now sadly gone Acknefar airport, I think, are examples of smaller airports that are built nicely to the space available.  So, in thinking about these space issues as a model builder, For Sparrow Field, I wanted to build a small airport in a big space, and thus preserve some of the openness that strikes me when I visit a RL airport tarmac.

4.  How long have you owned your airport?  is your airport opened to the general public?  Is a group required to rezz?  What are some activities or items that people can do at your airport?
I bought my first small parcel in Dogoog in August, 2009, so this summer will mark Sparrow Field's third year of operation.   Sparrow Field is open to the public, and there is a 20 minute autoreturn.  I used to run some group flights and other events at Sparrow Field, but these days I am not in Second Life often enough to put the necessary energy into that sort of activity.  Likewise, while I used to rent hangers at Sparrow,  but these days they are used by some of my older Second Life friends.  Of course, the Black Dog Industries factory store is located at Sparrow Field as well, where Katrina Keyes and I sell the airplanes that we build, which contributes at least a bit to the tier to pay for Dogoog.  In the end, I think of Sparrow Field as a quiet airport in a quiet corner of Nautilus that Second Life Aviators are welcome to use or not as they please.  While I mostly maintain it for my own amusement, I very much enjoy it when I see some Second Life resident that I heve never met landing or taking off to or from parts unknown.

5.  We are thrilled to have your airport come to our SL Airport Expo and be a part of Aviation Month! What inspired you to take part?
I have found that the organizers of this expo to be among the most responsible, reasonable, and thoughtful of the leaders of the Second Life avaition community, so I am happy to participate in an event that raises awaremess about Second Life aviation and the creativity of those in that community.  I hope this awareness will encourage the Lindens to see the possibility in the use of Second Life for vehicle simulation, and that they will continue to work with residents to improve its capablilities and potentials in this regard.


1.  How long have you been in Second Life?
Three years, since December, 2008

2.  What made you first join Second Life?
Lack of social skills and a generally addictive personality?

3.   What are some of the strangest things you have experienced or seen in Second Life?
Well, one time, in the pre-Zindra days, I came out of a bad sim crossing and found myself crashed into the middle of  the dance floor of a fetish strip club in Nautilus.  The dancers patched up this flyboy nicely and sent him on his way.

4.  Other than owning an airport in Second Life and being interested in aviation, what are some other things you like to do while you are in Second Life?
I mostly fly around Nautilus and the Blake Sea, chat with a couple of friends that i have made over the years, and build airplanes through my business, Black Dog Industries.

You can visit Sparrow Field by using clicking the slurl below:
Sparrow Field

Sparrow Field is also home to Black Dog Industries, an aviation company in SL! Check out their latest release, a Bell P-39 Air Cobra, which was made in collaboration with THI.  The photograph was taken by Zeeva Quintessa:

Below is a bit more info about the P-39 Aircobra:

"The P-39 Airacobra was built by Bell Aircraft Corporation in Buffalo, New York and was originally designed to answer calls from the U.S. Army Airforce (USAAF) for a high altitude interceptor.   The first prototype flew in 1938 and was characterized by its advanced technology and unorthodox design: it was an all-metal, low-wing, single engine fighter with side-opening automobile-style doors, tricycle landing gear, and an 1,200 h.p. Allison V-1710 twelve cylinder engine.   The P-39 was notable as one of the first examples of integrated design to create a total “weapon system” where the armament, which included a 37 mm cannon, two .50 cal. axial-mounted machine guns, and four .30 cal wing mounted machine guns, were incorporated into the aircraft’s original design.   As a result, the engine was mounted mid-fuselage, and the drive shaft stretched through the cockpit between the pilot’s legs to reach the propeller. "

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